As featured in the Tasmanian Country publication 9th September 2022
Rural crime may lack the big-ticket media presence of some of the other shenanigans that we hear on the nightly news, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen and isn’t important. Yes, there is never going to be a police chase in pursuit of a stolen porta loo from the potato harvest paddock, a reporter is not going to do a ‘direct to air report’ regarding your siphoned diesel from the irrigator, and we will probably never hear about the time and resources needed to track down poachers shooting deer from the road. These incidents cost farmers time and money, yet we are surprisingly bad at reporting them.
A member was mustering cattle in the back run paddock when she stumbled across a camp or “humpy” in seemingly the middle of nowhere. She put it down to some teenage hijinks and didn’t report it. Months later in a random discussion with a local member of the police, she discovered that a group of criminals were suspected to be camping out in the bush while conducting crime in the area, her information could have been important at the time, but she didn’t think to report it.
On-farm we need to talk about crime and how to report it - with our employees, family members and farm suppliers. We need to lift awareness about unusual observations and the role we all play to keep our local area safe. List the Crime Stoppers website and phone number in an easy to find central place and save the details on individual phones.
The TFGA and new CEO of Crime Stoppers Tasmania, David Higgins and Tasmanian Police Senior Sargent Mike Gillies from Longford, met this week to discuss the reporting of rural crime and the role we all to play to reduce it.
“Crime Stoppers Tasmania call upon those from the country to report crime, offence and suspicious activities no matter how minor they may seem. It is not acceptable for those of us that live in the country to feel we need to tolerate or absorb criminal impacts, we have to speak up and report it. I regularly hear stories about theft from farmers in my area (David also farms in Cressy), yet I am shocked how it isn’t reported. Farmers prefer to not make a fuss and fix the problems themselves, purchasing heavy duty locks for gates or surveillance with signage for the property,” said David Higgins, CEO of Crime Stoppers Tasmania.
Senior Sargent Mike Gillies reminds us how easy reporting can be but also how important, “You never know what piece of the broader puzzle your experience or observation, might supply.
“Most crime happens between midnight and 5am in the morning, it might be something as small as a truck driver noticing a car parked in an unusual location on a country road or a farm hand finding a broken fence with car tracks in a remote part of the farm. There are many instances where a seeming small incident or unusual observation have formed part of a far broader criminal picture,” he said.
“You can report and ask for the incident not to be investigated, just a general FYI. You can make your information anonymous, however I really encourage people to leave their details. We (the Police) have strict rules regarding sharing of provided information, leaving your details is very secure but provides us with an avenue to potentially gain further information that might prove to be pertinent.
“Crime can often be cyclical. You can have no incidents of ages, then your area might have a hot patch of regular activity,” said Gillies.
“Making sure your farm team knows what to do regarding reporting and acting quickly is an easy precaution to take.”
Our mustering member could have reported her find any number of ways. Our modern phones make reporting easy, you can ping a location, take a photo, make a call or use the 24 hour reporting service on www.crimestopperstas.com.au. There really is no excuse not to report crime or unusual observations. We just need to lift awareness on-farm, take the time to get to know your local police, and value the role we all play in keeping our area safe.